Brexit

The final snub to the UK – that’s what the Times calls it:

Britain will have to make do with a photocopy of the agreement that will end more than 40 years of European Union membership next Friday.
In what will be seen as a final symbolic snub, Downing Street admitted yesterday that it had accepted the EU demand that only a single copy of the withdrawal agreement should be signed — and that it should remain the property of Brussels.
Britain will be sent back three “carbon copies” — or posh photocopies — one of which will be stored in the treaties section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Downing Street said it had yet to decide what to do with other copies.

But we Leavers are not going to make the same mistake we did in 2016, reports iNews.

After the 2016 referendum, many of those involved in the Leave campaign stepped away from politics – and then watched in horror as Theresa May negotiated a Brexit deal they thought sold out voters, while Remainers launched a barrage of efforts to secure a second referendum.
They are determined not to make the same mistake now that Brexit is actually happening. Leading campaigners say they will remain involved in the debate, seeking to ensure Boris Johnson keeps his promise to dump EU regulations and mobilising a base of thousands of Leave supporters to act on issues they care about.
Wealthy Eurosceptics are still donating money to the cause, according to senior activists. A number of influential Leavers are understood to have joined a new group called “Phoenix”, which will meet in London every month and discuss how to channel the energy seen in the pro-Brexit cause over recent years.

Trade

Boris is still talking tough, says the Times.

Boris Johnson is preparing to use the threat of high tariffs to put pressure on the EU, US and other nations to strike trade deals with Britain.
The Times understands that the prime minister and cabinet ministers discussed using tariffs as “leverage” in an effort to accelerate trade negotiations at a meeting this week.
The tariffs could result in taxes of 30 per cent on some types of French cheese and 10 per cent on German cars. Ministers agreed at a meeting of the EU exit strategy (XS) committee on Thursday that the tariffs should be put out for consultation.

Fisheries

And the PM is still insisting the EU can’t have our fish, reports the Telegraph.

Boris Johnson insisted the UK and the EU will forge a relationship as “friends and sovereign equals” after Brexit as he signed the document agreeing the terms of Britain’s departure.
The Prime Minister and the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission all signed the Withdrawal Agreement in what Mr Johnson described as “a fantastic moment”.
He added: “This signature heralds a new chapter in our nation’s history.”
But in a sign of the battles still to be fought, The Telegraph has learnt that France has insisted in closed door European Commission meetings that Britain must grant EU countries access to UK fishing waters for 25 years after Brexit if it wants a free trade agreement with Brussels.
The EU has warned that successfully concluding a fishing deal with the UK – ideally by July 1 this year – is a prerequisite for any future trade deal, which Mr Johnson wants done by the end of this year.

Not even in exchange for financial services, says the Express.

BRITAIN’S finance sector has issued a huge Brexit warning over even securing basic access to European Union markets over fears Brussels wants UK fishing rights in exchange, drawing the industry into a political struggle between the bloc and its departing member.
Banks were confident Boris Johnson would prioritise the financial sector – Britain’s largest export industry and biggest corporate tax generator – in trade talks with the European Union. But sources have warned a push from Brussels for fishing access to UK waters, as well as London’s stance it will diverge from EU rules, are prompting them to revisit hard Brexit plans that that could see more jobs than anticipated move to Europe.

EU

Do we trust the bloc after reading in the Express that it has admitted defeat?

BRUSSELS has finally admitted defeat as a senior official has revealed the EU are now bound by law to finalise a Brexit deal with Britain in 12 months despite relentless attempts to wriggle their way out of an agreement.
The EU is now working on the assumption the so-called Brexit transition period after Brexit will terminate at the end in 11 months. A senior official said Boris Johnson’s repeated efforts to rule out an extension to the transition period and Brexit itself has forced the EU into surrender. The bureaucrat, who did not want to be named, said: “We can assume at this point that the transition period will end on December 31, 2020.”

And yet, the bloc is still issuing instructions, says the Independent.

The European Commission has produced a map of where it expects the UK to apply internal customs checks under Boris Johnson’s Brexit withdrawal agreement.
The prime minister has repeatedly denied that his deal includes customs checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but his claim is contradicted by the contents of the treaty.
Sabine Weyand, the EU director general for trade, said that “now that the withdrawal agreement has been signed”, Brussels would be publishing a guide to the deal, “including how the protocol on Northern Ireland will work”.

… and insists on the ECJ’s jurisdiction, says iNews.

Brussels has created a map and illustration of how checks will be carried out on goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland under the terms of the Brexit deal.
The move comes despite the Prime Minister repeatedly insisting there will not be any checks on goods travelling between Britain and Northern Ireland once the transition period is over.
His claims have been greeted with warnings that the UK would be in breach of the terms of the withdrawal agreement he signed.
Sabine Weyand, the EU’s director general for trade, said the European Commission had published a set of slides setting out a “handy summary” of how the treaty functions, including “how the protocol on Northern Ireland will work”.

The Times reports the EU’s attempts to lure our students.

British universities are scrambling to build campuses across Europe, luring students with “white sandy beaches” and access to jobs in the EU after Brexit.
Queen Mary University of London boasts scuba diving and water sports at its site in Malta, while Lancaster University’s campus in Leipzig promises post-study working rights in Germany.
It is part of escalating competition among UK universities to attract the dwindling number of school-leavers and their £9,250-per-head fees away from rivals.

And copyright laws are examined by BBC News.

Universities and Science Minister Chris Skidmore has said that the UK will not implement the EU Copyright Directive after the country leaves the EU.
Several companies have criticised the law, which would hold them accountable for not removing copyrighted content uploaded by users, if it is passed.
EU member states have until 7 June 2021 to implement the new reforms, but the UK will have left the EU by then.
The UK was among 19 nations that initially supported the law.
That was in its final European Council vote in April 2019.
Copyright is the legal right that allows an artist to protect how their original work is used.

Bercow

In an exclusive report, the Sun highlights a dossier of bullying.

A HOUSE of Commons boss has claimed John Bercow bullied him so badly his health collapsed and he was forced to take early retirement.
The bombshell fresh allegation by Lord Lisvane is believed to be at the centre of a substantial dossier the peer has submitted on the former Speaker to Parliament’s watchdog this week.
It runs to “dozens” of pages, and catalogues five long years of alleged abuse by Mr Bercow, The Sun has also learned.
Lord Lisvane has never reported Mr Bercow’s behaviour before.
But he has told friends he was motivated to act now to try to stop the former Speaker from getting a peerage from Labour after Boris Johnson refused to nominate him.

Guido also has the story.

The Sun has run as an exclusive today that John Bercow’s bullying of Robert Rogers – which the former Clerk of the Commons reported earlier in the week – was so bad his health collapsed and he was forced to take early retirement. Certainly tallies with his bullying of his secretary Kate Emms which resulted in her being diagnosed with PTSD…
“A friend told The Sun: “Bercow told Robert he was no good, he was useless, he was f***ing this and f***ing that, all of the time.
“He tried to make him feel completely worthless, without ever making any specific allegations of what he was supposed to have done wrong.
“The clerks used to call it Bercow’s ‘carpet chewing’.”

Guido also discloses what Bercow will do now:

Students at Royal Hollway university in London have been told John Bercow is joining the politics department on a part-time basis, “and will contribute to teaching across the curriculum.”
He will be giving a lecture at the university this afternoon. Read the email in full below…

Dear Students
I’m delighted to announce that John Bercow is joining the department as Professor of Politics. Today will be his first day.
I think this is a really exciting opportunity. Professor Bercow chaired the House of Commons during one the most tumultuous periods in British politics. I’m sure his extensive experience will provide students with unique insights into the workings of Parliament and British politics more generally.
Professor Bercow will work with undergraduate and postgraduate students on a part-time basis, and will contribute to teaching across the curriculum.
He’s very excited to be joining us and – as you know – will be giving a talk this evening in the Shilling Auditorium at 5.30pm. If you see him around on campus please give him a warm welcome.
Many thanks

Immigration

Aircraft could be used to spot illegal immigrants, reports the Telegraph.

Surveillance planes could be used to detect migrants crossing the Channel by small boat, under new EU plans.
Earlier this month, officials from Britain, France and Belgium met with Europol and the EU border security agency Frontex to draw up plans to stifle the flow of clandestine journeys across the world’s busiest shipping lane.
Last year, despite a multimillion pound ‘enhanced action plan’ between Britain and France, some 3,339 people made the crossing, with 1,948 reaching the UK. This week alone, 54 people have made it to Britain, with 64 picked up by the French.

HS2

The row over the future of the high-speed rail line rumbles on in the Times.

Upgrading main railway lines in the north of England as an alternative to HS2 would be “unreasonably disruptive” to passengers and fail to deliver the same benefits.
An analysis commissioned by the Department for Transport found that overhauling routes from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds would involve 460 full or part-weekend closures.
Routes including the busy west coast, east coast and Midland main lines would face up to 2,000 week-night shutdowns to enable engineers to carry out the necessary upgrades.

And the Times notes that most of the land needed has already been bought.

The government has already purchased two thirds of the land needed to build the first phase of HS2 between London and Birmingham despite a threat to cancel the entire project.
It is believed that at least £8 billion of taxpayers’ money has been ploughed into the scheme over the past decade.
Boris Johnson is due to announce his “go or no-go”  decision on HS2 early next month alongside the publication of a long-awaited review of the scheme.

BBC News carries a report on a failure of the government’s transport department.

No-one took full account of how complex and risky the HS2 high-speed rail project was likely to be, the government spending watchdog has said.
The Department for Transport (DfT) and HS2 Ltd did not allow for all uncertainties when estimating initial costs, the National Audit Office (NAO) said.
In 2015, HS2 was due to cost £56bn.
Earlier this week, however, a leaked government-commissioned review suggested the total could reach £106bn.
The findings of the independent review, conducted by former HS2 Ltd chair Doug Oakervee, have not yet been officially published.

Virus

Many of the media are majoring on the spread of the coronavirus.  The Telegraph says it could spread to the UK.

Public health officials have teamed up with Border Force to trace 2,000 airline passengers who flew into Britain from Wuhan, China, in the past fortnight, to check if they are suffering symptoms of coronavirus.
In a significant escalation of measures to prevent the deadly virus from spreading in the UK, the government said it would be tracking down those who could have been in the incubation period when they landed, but may have appeared symptomless.
Flights from Wuhan are currently suspended, but following a meeting of the government’s emergency committee, Cobra, the Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Witty announced that a Public Health hub of seven clinicians will now be established at Heathrow to monitor people coming from other parts of China.

The Mail also reports the hunt.

British authorities are hunting for 2,000 people who flew in from Wuhan after the deadly coronavirus hit Europe with France confirming its first three cases and the death toll rising to 41 in China.
It comes as one of the first UK patients to be tested for the killer condition – which has now infected more than 1,300 people worldwide – revealed he was given the all-clear after being treated by doctors in ‘spaceman suits’.

It’s got to France, says ITV News.

France has announced three cases of coronavirus, the deadly new virus from China.
The three confirmed cases, Europe’s first, all involved people who had travelled to China, where hundreds of people have fallen ill and more than two dozen have died.
The first two French cases were announced by health minister Agnes Buzyn at a hastily called news conference on Friday night.
The third was announced in a statement from her ministry about three hours later.

Police

The police are failing to confront fraudsters, says the Times.

Fraudsters in Britain “operate with impunity” because the police are not adequately equipped to investigate them, a report has concluded.
No force can cope with the rapidly increasing number of cases and they are regularly handed to “unskilled investigators”, it revealed.
Millions of victims are being failed and police staff say “they can no longer work effectively to identify criminals and help bring them to justice”.

ITV News reports fraudsters not worrying about being caught.

Fraudsters in the UK “currently operate with impunity” and police have not kept pace with the sharp rise in cases, a report has found.
Fraud now accounts for one in three of all crimes committed in Britain and has cost millions of victims more than £130 billion to date, according to the review by ex-deputy Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir Craig Mackey.
But fewer than 1% of officers nationally investigate fraud directly and investigators feel “they can no longer work effectively to identify criminals and help bring them to justice”, it adds.
Despite nearly 2,000 fraud offences being committed daily, just one in 50 results in a prosecution.
Illustrating the jump in cases, the report adds that while overall crime in England and Wales has remained “broadly static” over the past 12 months, reporting of fraud has jumped by 500,000 offences, a rise of 15%.

The Times reports on the Met’s plans for facial recognition.

Plans by the Metropolitan Police to roll out  controversial facial recognition cameras could run into trouble, a watchdog has said.
Scotland Yard wants to use the cameras to catch serious and violent offenders and track missing and vulnerable youngsters. The technology will be placed in areas likely to be frequented by specific suspects, including outside train stations, pubs and clubs and at shopping centres.
The cameras are being deployed after a High Court ruling that the use of the technology in Wales was lawful. However, Professor Paul Wiles, the biometrics commissioner, cautioned that the ruling did not give carte blanche to all police forces to use the technology as they wished.

The Mail also has the story.

The Metropolitan Police today revealed it will start using ‘Big Brother’ facial recognition technology on the streets of  London  within the next month after eight major trials since 2016.
Scotland Yard says the cameras are a fantastic ‘crime-fighting tool’ with a 70 per cent success rate at picking up suspects – but privacy campaigners believe it is a ‘breath-taking assault on rights’.
Detectives will draw up a watchlist of up to 2,500 people suspected of the most serious crimes including murders, gun and knife crime, drug dealing and child abuse.
Then cameras will be set up in busy areas such as in the West End, at major shopping centres, near sports and music events or high crime areas, for stints of five to six hours with officers in the area poised to grab people on their databases.

The Sun says the project will be used to catch dangerous criminals.

BRITAIN’S biggest police force is to start using facial recognition cameras in a bid to track down thousands of dangerous criminals.
London’s Met will deploy the tech in public places in the fight against serious crime.
The scheme will also to help to find missing children and other vulnerable people.
Suspects on watchlists will be approached by officers if spotted by the cameras, which will be deployed within a month.

The plan is criticised in the Morning Star.

METROPOLITAN Police scheme to snoop on Londoners using live facial-recognition (LFR) technology is “dangerous” and a “threat to human rights,” privacy campaigners warned today.
Warnings flooded in after the Met announced it would begin deploying the technology, which has failed multiple trials, across the capital’s streets and claimed the measure would help fight serious crime.
LFR technology uses special cameras to scan the structure of faces in a crowd. It then creates a digital image and compares the result against a “watch list.” If the cameras identify a person of interest they will be approached by officers.

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